#7 Huskies Hit the Road to Face #14 Mavericks

Mikey Eysimont had 2 goals and 1 assist in the Huskies 5-4 win over MSU on January 30 2016 (photo prout)

Mikey Eyssimont had 2 goals and 1 assist in the Huskies 5-4 win over MSU on Jan. 30, 2016 (photo prout)

#7 SCSU HUSKIES VS #14 MSU MAVERICKS

The #7 ranked St. Cloud State University Huskies (0-0-0 | 0-0-0 ) open the 2016-17 regular season with a road trip to #14 Minnesota State University Mankato ( 2-0-0 | 2-0-0) at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, MN on Friday/Saturday. October 14/15. Game times are at 7:07 PM CT both evenings. Tickets are available through the SCSU ticket office or via Ticketmaster.

The weekend series will be broadcast on Charter Spectrum Channels 191 and 826.

Both games will be streamed on WCHA.TV

The audio broadcast of both games can be heard on REV 96.9 FM with the broadcast team of Jim Erickson and Dave Reichel.

HEAD TO HEAD

The Huskies lead the all-time series at the Division I level 28-15-7. In the last 20 games, SCSU has a 11-4-5 record vs the Mavericks. SCSU is 2-3-1 in the last six outings in Mankato going back to the 2007-08 season. SCSU swept all three games vs the Mavericks in the 2015-16 season winning 4-0 and 3-0 in October in St. Cloud and 5-4 in the North Star College Cup in St. Paul on January 30, 2016.

LAST SERIES

The Mavericks completed an impressive sweep of WCHA rival Michigan Tech University on home ice last weekend by scores of 3-1 Friday and 4-0 on Saturday. On Friday, the Mavericks were led by  junior Zeb Knutson’s two goal effort in the 3-1 win outshooting Michigan Tech by a 23-21 margin. On Saturday, MSU outshot the Huskies 26-25 with Cole Huggins getting the shutout for the Mavericks in the 4-0 win. MSU was 3 for 11 on the power play and picked up goals from four different players. In a superb effort by the MSU special teams, they were  5 for 19 (26%) on the power play and were 14/15 (93%) on the penalty kill for the weekend. Top weekend performances were by Zeb Knutson with three goals, Daniel Brickley with six points and CJ Franklin with two goals and two assists for a four point weekend. Senior, Cole Huggins allowed one goal on 46 shots (.978 SV%) in an outstanding weekend performance.

The Huskies were idle last weekend after a 6-2 exhibition win vs the University of Regina on October 2.

MINNESOTA STATE UNIVERSITY MAVERICKS

Despite losing their two top scorers (Teddy Blueger | Bryce Gervais) and 93 points (38 goals and 55 assists) from 2015-16 team, the Mavericks appear to have a more potent offense in 2016-17. The top line of Marc Michaels, CJ Franklin and Brad McClure combined for three goals, five assists and eights points vs Michigan Tech. The line of Parker Tuomie, Michael Huntebrinker and Zeb Knutson combined for three goals, two assists and five points. Defenseman Daniel Brickley appears to be picking up where the now departed Casey Nelson left off adding five assists and one goal vs the Huskies.

First-year players Parker Tuomie and Marc Michaelis were productive offensive players in the United States Hockey League with Tuomie compiling 30 goals and 24 assists for 54 points for Sioux Falls and Michaelis 11 goals and 42 assists for 53 points with Green Bay.

The goaltending tandem of Cole Huggins and Jason Pawloski logged 34 games last season with Huggins winning 13 games with a .917 SV% and 1.83 GAA. Pawloski had an 8-2-5 record with a .901 SV% and 1.85 GAA. As such, the Mavericks should be solid in goal in 2016-17.

The Mavericks feature two players with ties to the St. Cloud State University program. First-year forward Josh French’s father Monte skated for the Huskies for two seasons from 1985 to 1987 before transferring to Ferris State and was a teammate of current MSU coach Mike Hastings. First-year forward Parker Tuomie’s father Tray was also a teammate of MSU coach Mike Hastings during the 1986-87 season before transferring to the University of Wisconsin.

MSU head coach MIke Hastings is a 1993 graduate of St. Cloud State University.

ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY HUSKIES

The Huskies return a deep and talented  defensive corp including junior, Nathan Widman (+21) and sophomores Jimmy Schuldt (+34), Will Borgen (+18) and Jon Lizotte (+10). All  were outstanding in 2015-16. Senior, Niklas Nevalainen was a key defensive and offensive component to this unit with 23 points in 38 games and a +18 ranking. The unit allowed 2.13 GPG and were  ranked 10th nationally in team defense. First-year defenseman, Jimmy Schuldt and Will Borgen were both named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team. Add to this unit first round Detroit Red Wings draft choice Dennis Cholowski and USHL Defenseman of the Year Jack Ahcan and you have perhaps the deepest defensive unit in all of college hockey. Rounding out the unit is Clark Kuster with his 100 MPH slap shot and former Finnish World Junior player Mika Ilvonen and it’s an embarrassment of riches at the position.

At forward lost to graduation are four senior forwards (Benik, Morley, Murray and Kossila)  who combined for 178 points in 2015-16. Add to that the loss of junior to be Patrick Russell who signed with Edmonton of the NHL and the number of points lost grows to 219. That’s a lot of ground to make up with the responsibility falling primarily on junior forwards Judd Peterson and  Blake Winiecki who combined for 28 goals and 19 assists last season and a strong group of sophomores including Mikey Eyssimont, Robby Jackson, Jacob Benson, and Patrick Newell who combined for 35 goals and 49 assists. Senior Ryan Papa had an injury-riddled 2015-16 but is a proven scorer and it is hoped fellow seniors Ben Storm and Daniel Tedesco step forward offensively as well. And, even though the brothers Poehling have outstanding chemistry with a history of strong offensive production, it may not surface until the second half of the season as typically is the case with first-year players. The same goes for Jake Wahlin, another first-year forward.

With the signature on an entry-level contract by junior Charlie Lindgren following the 2015-16 season, the goaltending for this season went from a position of strength to that of an unknown quantity. It’s true that sophomores David Zednik and UMass-Lowell transfer Jeff Smith and Freshman Zach Driscoll have yet to pay a single collegiate minute for the SCSU Huskies. However, transfer Smith did play eight games with the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks in 2014-15. Both Driscoll and Zednik have good resumes, however both have yet to see Division I regular season game action. All three goaltenders logged a period of ice time in the exhibition vs Regina.

GAME PROSPECTUS

This should be an intriguing matchup between two squads expected to compete for their respective league titles in 2016-17. The teams have had one common opponent thus far this season both defeating the University of Regina in exhibition play. MSU defeated Regina 5-3 on October 1 in Mankato and the Huskies matched that performance winning 6-2 the next night in St. Cloud. Both teams lost fire-power from the 2015-16 season with Mankato losing their top two scorers and the Huskies their top six scorers. However, the Huskies roster has 232 points returning from the 2015-16 roster while Mankato has 147 returning points. MSU’s current roster includes Zach Stepan who leads the team with 2 goals and 1 assist in career scoring against the Huskies. Seniors, Sean Flanagan and Brad McClure have two career assists each vs the Huskies. Returning SCSU players have 16 careers points vs the Mavericks with Mikey Eyssimont leading the group with 2 goals and 1 assist. Judd Peterson is 1-1-2 in his career vs Mankato.

At this point, give Mankato the edge in goaltending experience with Cole Huggins and Jason Pawloski returning veterans with extensive playing time and 88 games between them. However, neither goaltender has logged a win in five outings vs SCSU.  The Huskies certainly have not settled on a starter in goal and it’s expected the Huskies will rotate goaltenders Jeff Smith and Zach Driscoll this weekend.

Both teams lost top-level players at defense with the Huskies losing NCHC Player of the Year and All-American, Ethan Prow to graduation and the Mavericks losing Casey Nelson to an early signing with the Buffalo Sabres. However, the Huskies have outstanding depth at defense and perhaps the most depth at the blue line of any team in college hockey. That depth will be relied upon to provide a line of defense for the inexperienced goaltending of the Huskies.

The Huskies have always seemed to have difficulties on Mankato’s home ice and are only 2-3-1 in their last six games at the Verizon Center going back to the 2007-08 season. The Mavericks will have an edge in that they’ve already played two regular season games while this will be the first regular season games of the season for SCSU. There should be a large crowd at the Verizon Wireless Center for this contest between two Minnesota State Colleges and Universities sister schools and the Mavericks will be gunning to knock off the higher-ranked Huskies.

 

As always, all the pertinent links for this weekends games can be found here

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